Sobering overview of the future of autonomous weaponry


Originally published at:


That image. A movie should be made around that concept just so you could really see what it could be like. Imagine a swarm of those things floating down the street and one peeling away to face you announcing you must immediately surrender. You see another one blow someone up. A whole city taken over by toys and you can’t even tell who’s pulling the strings.


How do you surrender? Put your hands up? Drones don’t care about your puny hands.


Probably something like demanding you lay down and place a bag over your head or something. If I were doing this I would probably make everyone gather together in some nearby buildings so I wouldn’t need as many drones per person to monitor them - you could keep a couple inside for surveillance and just a few outside for the doors. I’d imagine a bunch would sit most of the time after the initial push so as to conserve battery power but would be nearby in case.


It’s weird that I am going from pessimist to optimist in my old age. I concede the imagery conjured up could come to light if you had some Stalin/Hitler-esque dictator with access to all the right materials and programming.

But I still contend a robotic military could could programmed to be significantly better at keeping civilian casualties down. Robots don’t get scared, flinch, fearful of their life, have deep rooted biases, or have psychotic breakdowns. They can afford to wait, confront the threat direct, and then attack, vs “We think they are in that building, order an air strike.”

At any rate, I just feel we have enough fear mongering in my life.


This was already done by the Batman animated series :smiley: good episode too.


I am not sure if it’s a positive outlook that future wars are more efficient without the irrationalities of the meat-and-water-bags…

Oh yes. Can someone explain this in simple words to our politicians?


Will there be atheist robots in foxholes? Is that what I’m hearing?



Its kinda hard to take the author seriously after seeing that picture.


A whole goddamn book full of Movie Plot Threats?


It must be a Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays…


Just yesterday I read that a popular online social club was releasing their image recognition software to the public. “Uh oh,” I thought to myself.


And you thought you had to wait for prolific nanotech for things to get scary…

“See, there’s mites around all the time. They use sparkles to talk to each other,” Harv explained. "They’re in the food and water, everywhere. And there’s rules that these mites are supposed to follow. They’re supposed to break down into safe pieces… But there are people who break those rules [so the] Protocol Enforcement guys make a mite to go out and find that mite and kill it. This dust - we call it toner - is actually the dead bodies of all those mites.

From The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson.


Could probably do more damage around Los Angeles by going with old-school cat and pigeon rockets…

Or, probably more effective, roman candle caninies:


Didn’t the CIA have a couple failed operations trying to use cats and stuff in a similar manner.


[quote=“Mister44, post:5, topic:84473”]
But I still contend a robotic military could could programmed to be significantly better at keeping civilian casualties down. [/quote]

They could, yes. And I hope in time they will. However, the trend in non-autonomous drone warfare has so far trended more in the direction of “The soldiers and commanders are at a far enough emotional remove that the targets don’t feel like humans, nosirree! And the cost of intervening with military force is so much lower, and only measured in dollars and not our blood, so why not?”


You beat me to it. My quote was going to be this one (I guess it still is…)

Such inventions had spawned concern that people from Phyle A might surreptitiously introduce a few million lethal devices into the bodies of members of Phyle B, providing the technically sweetest possible twist on the trite, ancient dream of being able instantly to turn a whole society into gravy. A few inroads of that kind had been made, a few mass closed casket funerals had been held, but not many. It was hard to control these devices.


Ooh, yours is better.


The novel Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez deals explicitly with this issue in a thriller set basically tomorrow (near-future scifi?).

It wasn’t a bad beach read, plot-wise, but the concepts in it were great and really interesting.

I’d also suggest Daemon and its sequel if you haven’t read them already.


Ever read Joe Haldeman’s Forever Peace?

His predictions in that appear to be coming true. The increasing automatisation and clinicalisation of war have reduced civilian resistance to distant conflict, encouraging the more frequent use of force. And the psychological impact on remote warfighters is much greater than anticipated.

This is getting dated now, but it’s still worth watching: